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How to Write An Excellent Cover Letter

Career Advice

28 November 2016

A cover letter is sometimes called a Letter of Application and at other times a Motivational Letter. Motivational Letter is the most descriptive term because the purpose of the letter is to MOTIVATE the employer to hire you. Always, always, always re-write your cover letter so it is tailored to the job it is target toward.

Always address the letter to a person, not to the organisation. Call if you must to get the name of the person who will review the letters. When possible, put the name of a mutual contact in the first sentence. This can set you apart from the competition right up front. Limit your cover letter to 300 words.

Your short and precise letter must answer these two questions -

• Why should the employer hire you?
• Why will the employer benefit by hiring you?

It is important to know that the employer is reading tens or hundreds cover letters from applicants. That means they will have enough time to scan your cover letter quickly. Your letter may have 30 seconds to convince the employer that you should be on the pile of applications for consideration, not on the discard pile.

Of course this means your letter must be short. It must speak to what the employer wants. But this doesn’t mean you should cut and paste from the job description. Your letter is a custom explanation of your qualifications related to the job description. It is effective to use examples that illustrate how you are qualified for the job.

Weak – I was the Team Leader at Acme Corporation.

Strong – I supervised 15 customer service representatives as Team Leader at Acme Corporation and my team won the company award for sales each year.

Explain how selecting you will benefit the employer, not how this job will be a benefit to you. The employer knows the advantages of working for the company, and they already know you think it is a benefit to you or why would you apply? Convince them that you are a good hire and tell them specifically why. Also show that you know something about their organisation. By doing so, you can show them you’re already doing your homework.

Follow directions precisely. There is no quicker way to the shredder than to fail to follow directions.
Conclude your letter by saying how and when you will get in touch. Be certain that you do follow through on this statement.
Leave out:


  • Stories about your experiences
  • A list of classes you have taken
  • Overly formal language. Be proper, but don’t overdo it.
  • Language that undersells, minimises, or sounds apologetic. You are GREAT, so sell the employer on qualifications.